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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Let's talk about Gauge

I found these really simple, quick, and fun roses today here. I decided to sit down and make a couple and just by switching from my average hook to a tiny hook (with no other changes to the pattern and with basically the same sort of yarn) I ended up with big rose and little rose.



Now, a lot of crochet projects, especially garments, require something called "gauge." Gauge is, technically, the proper tension you need to work with to ensure the proper size of the completed item. So for most of the stuff I do, gauge is not a big deal. Where it comes into play is clothing items, and I will admit to being awful about that stuff just not coming out right for me. Why? Because I am lazy with gauge.

At the beginning of projects requiring gauge you are often supposed to make a sample, crochet out a square in the stitch you are going to be using with the hook you are going to be using and the yarn you are going to  be using, measure it, see if it matches up with the sizing of the gauge provided in the pattern (ie four stitches equals four inches or something like that).

To use a meme, "Ain't nobody got time for that. . ."

But your own personal style is going to make a difference for how your pieces turn out. Do you crochet tightly? Loosely? If you are a beginner your stitches my start out being somewhat inconsistent. This is not something you really can fix quickly, other than to unravel and start over if you notice a particular section of your project looks wrong compared to the rest of it. The only real way to become consistent (unless you are just a super precise person to begin with and this sort of thing comes naturally to you) is plenty of practice. Start with pieces that involve less precision than baby sweaters and block quilts (dish rags are awesome, so are scarves if you don't mind unraveling whenever you make a mistake). Eventually you will come to the point where you don't have to think about your stitches and your hands will automatically do them the same way every time.

However, this does not solve the problem of gauge.

One thing you can do is figure out whether you tend to run lose (which will make your pieces generally bigger than the pattern wants) or tight (in which case they will be smaller; look at me, Captain Obvious today. . . Favorite House quote of all time: Girl, "You are reading a comic book." House, "You are wearing a low cut blouse to call attention to your cleavage. . .Oh sorry, I thought we were having a state the obvious contest, and I'm competitive.")  and right at the start be proactive: go up or down a hook size (bigger hook, bigger stitches, you can figure that out, right?).

And so we reach the point of this. Hook size makes a ton of difference! Look at the two roses again: The red one was made with the big orange hook, the pink with the tiny silver one. Same yarn (different color obviously, same weight). Same pattern. One rose is about half the size of the other.



The only other real option is training yourself to crochet differently which you can do, but it takes a lot of mental concentration to avoid relapsing into your old ways.

Changing to a thicker or finer yarn can also make a difference, but a lot of patterns are going to specify the weight of yarn you want to use anyway.

So, if you are a very detailed, patient person, go ahead and make your gauge samples before hand. Alternately just check our gauge a little into the project. It may mean having to start over, but it could be worth it if you are making someone a special garment.



Growing Home

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for linking up at Share the Love Blog Hop!!!
    now following you xx

    Natasha @ www.serenityyou.com

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  2. I looooove to crochet. One of my best friends comes over on the weekends and we just crochet for hours. :) I am such a tight stitcher. I've loosened up a little bit, but every time I switch between thread and regular yarn I have to focus so much on loosening my hold. Here's a link to my favorite completed blanket. http://withalljoy.com/2012/07/19/a-very-late-christmas-and-almost-on-time-graduation-present/

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  3. Pinned since it's my goal to learn how to crochet!!! Thanks for sharing this at my Pin Me Linky Party.

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  4. I found you from Diana Rambles Party! I'm your newest follower via GFC. I host Fluster Creative Muster Party on Wednesdays and I would love it if you would come by and party with us. Hope to see you there!

    Hugs, Smiles, and Blessings,

    Robin
    Fluster Buster

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